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Pentagon makes same-sex spousal benefits official

The Department of Defense announced Wednesday that it will be granting benefits to the same-sex spouses of both uniformed military personnel and civilian employees no later than Sept. 3.

"It is now the Department's policy to treat all married military personnel equally," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote in a memorandum distributed with Wednesday's press release. "The Department will work to make the same benefits available to all military spouses, regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages."

Recognizing that state's varying policies on same-sex marriage counteract that policy of equality, the Pentagon will be granting special leave for same-sex couples to be wed in one of the 13 states (or in the District of Columbia) where their marriages can be legally recognized.

Military service members will be granted up to 10 days of non-chargeable leave provided they are "assigned to duty stations located more than 100 miles" from a locale that allows same-sex marriage and need to travel in order to get a benefits-eligible marriage.

The Pentagon has also clarified that it will be recognizing marriages based on where they were performed rather than looking to the state or country where employees are stationed.

That's great news for same-sex military couples, and it could be good news for Maryland's wedding industry as well.

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